Vargas is the author of Building Better Beings: A Theory of Moral Responsibility (Oxford, in press). With John Martin Fischer, Robert Kane, and Derk Pereboom, he co-authored Four Views on Free Will (Blackwell, 2007). He is editing Rational and Social Agency: Essays on the Philosophy of Michael Bratman (with Gideon Yaffe). Vargas' main philosophical interests include the nature of moral agency, the philosophy of law, Latin American philosophy, (especially historical work on race and identity) and questions of philosophical methodology.
Vargas was a recipient of the first American Philosophical Association Prize in Latin American Thought, and his research on responsible agency has been recognized with year-long research fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, and the Stanford Humanities Center. He has also been a Visiting Fellow at the McCoy Center for Ethics in Society at Stanford University, and has held visiting appointments at the University of California, Berkeley, and the California Institute of Technology.
At the University of San Francisco, Vargas has taught courses in Philosophy, Psychology, Latin American Studies, the Honors Program in the Humanities, and the St. Ignatius Institute. In its inaugural year (2012) he received USF's College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Scholar Award, for "exceptional scholarly work of great academic value and impact." While at USF, he has held the NEH Chair in the Humanities, (2005-6), been awarded a Team Innovation Award (with Saera Khan, psychology) for development of USF's Program on Mind and Agency (2011-2012), and held a Davies Forum Professorship (2012). In 2012, he was awarded the USF's Distinguished Research Award, a university-wide award given annually to a single faculty member.
Before receiving his Joint-Ph.D. in Philosophy and Humanities from Stanford University (2001), he worked as a baker and a professional video game tester.